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Disapproving the Recomendations of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission

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Location: Washington, DC


DISAPPROVING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE DEFENSE BASE CLOSURE AND REALIGNMENT COMMISSION -- (House of Representatives - October 27, 2005)

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Illinois both for introducing this resolution and for yielding me some time to speak in support of the resolution.

The stakes could not be higher. Of course, we should take steps, even if politically difficult, to cut waste and improve efficiency in the military. Let us look where we are.

The Pentagon has recommended closures through the BRAC Commission. The BRAC Commission has approved them. Now the House is going to stamp them approved before the Department of Defense has completed its force structure review. This is exactly the opposite of what was supposed to happen. The BRAC commissioners themselves pointed out when they began their hearings this summer that the entire process has the cart before the horse.

Also, the Overseas Basing Commission noted that the Pentagon had not factored in the impact of the return of tens of thousands of personnel from Europe to the United States in its BRAC recommendations; and even now, we are proceeding with the BRAC process before the Pentagon has even completed its periodic force review, which is supposed to be the blueprint for what we need for the 21st century.

So we will be closing bases, losing key personnel, diminishing critical capabilities, even before we have determined which of those capabilities we need in order to meet current and future threats. The process, Mr. Chairman, has been backwards.

I certainly can find fault with some of the specifics in here. I am very familiar with the excellent work done by the people at Fort Monmouth in central New Jersey where they do electronics, command, control, communications, computers. They have taken the lead in developing countermeasures to detect and disarm roadside bombs in Iraq. It is hard to think of anything that could be more important.

We know that a large number of these scientists, probably 70, 80 percent of these scientists and engineers and procurement experts will not make the move if Fort Monmouth is closed. That capability would be lost at a time that we cannot afford it.

The harm to the military, to the Army, and to the joint services effort, I can assure my colleagues, is much greater than the harm to New Jersey. That is why I am highlighting this example of the problems.

Let me be clear, I have nothing but great respect for each of the commissioners and their staffs. They worked for months a grueling schedule, reams of data, listening attentively, openly. In the end, however, the commission produced a series of recommendations that could not be right because the whole thing was flawed from the beginning. They got the cart before the horse.

In the resolution before us today, we have the means to stop this flawed and dangerous process, and it is apparent that the commissioners knew that they were not getting it right.

In the case of Fort Monmouth, for example, in their recommendations, they charged Congress, not that they are able to charge Congress, but nevertheless they did, to review their results with respect to Fort Monmouth to say do not go ahead with them if it might hurt the capabilities that we need to fight terrorism around the world, to support our troops in the field and Iraq and Afghanistan. They actually said that in their recommendations. They were acknowledging that they were not getting it right, or at least they thought they might not be getting it right.

They have got the cart before the horse. It is a flawed process. To give us a chance, I will urge my colleagues to vote for this resolution so that we can get it right. Our country's security depends on it.

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